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You've heard all about the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). But if the “high-intensity” part sounds a little too, er, intense, a new study has some advice for you: Grab your headphones.
When University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers asked people who were new to HIIT to try a sprint-interval workout either with or without music, both groups came away with positive attitudes. But those who sweated to a playlist felt even better about the routine than those who’d worked out in silence.
Listening to music may make it easier for people to adopt these types of HIIT routines, say the study authors. That could help them stay in shape, they add, by allowing them to squeeze short, effective workouts into busy days.
Lots of people exercise regularly, but they do steady-state cardio (like long, slow jogs) or low-intensity activity (like walking or yoga). And while there’s nothing wrong with those types of exercise, research has shown that interval training can provide many of the same benefits—like burning calories and strengthening your heart—in less time.
"There has been a lot of discussion in the exercise and public policy worlds about how we can get people off the couch and meeting their minimum exercise requirements," said Kathleen Martin Ginis, PhD, professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC, in a press release. "The use of HIIT may be a viable option to combat inactivity, but there is a concern that people may find HIIT unpleasant, deterring future participation."
To examine newbies’ attitudes and intentions toward HIIT, researchers recruited 20 men and women unfamiliar with these types of workouts. After two preliminary training sessions, the participants completed two sprint interval training workouts on stationary exercise bikes about a week apart—one with music and one without. Each session included four to six 30-second “all-out” bouts of pedaling, separated by four minutes of rest.
After each session and again after a final follow-up meeting, the participants were asked to rank the workouts in terms of how enjoyable, beneficial, pleasant, painful, and valuable they found them to be. They were also asked how likely it was that they would do a similar workout three times a week going forward.
On average, the exercisers had already expressed positive assumptions about HIIT before the study began. And it turns out, their attitudes were just as positive after trying it for themselves. That was somewhat surprising, says study co-author and PhD candidate Matthew Stork, given the intensity of the workouts. But there’s more: Overall, the exercisers rated their session with music as more positive than their session without.
Somewhat surprisingly, participants’ “intention” scores (when asked if they’d continue these types of workouts) weren’t significantly different between the two sessions. Nonetheless, the authors wrote, using music to improve enjoyment and attitude toward HIIT “may eventually translate into improved [sprint-interval training] exercise intentions over time.”
It’s also possible, they admit, that the attitude boost provided by music really wasn’t enough to significantly improve participants’ intentions. But at the very least, says Stork, adding tunes to a tough workout probably won’t hurt.
"For busy people who may be reluctant to try HIIT for the first time, this research tells us that they can actually enjoy it,” he says, “and they may be more likely to participate in HIIT again if they try it with music."
The study was published in the Journal of Sport Sciences. Participants chose their own music and selections varied widely, says Stork, although they did tend to select fast, upbeat songs. That makes sense, he says, since music with fast tempos has been shown to facilitate speed increases in previous exercise studies.
As little as three 10-minute intense HIIT sessions a week can provide meaningful health benefits, says Stork, who's also a certified strength and conditioning coach. If people can incorporate these workouts into their regular routine, he adds, they may not necessarily have to get “the dreaded 150-minute weekly total.” (The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, per week.)
Stork says that HIIT can be beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels—although he cautions that anyone with a history of heart disease or other health risks should check with his or her physician before trying a new exercise protocol.
He also recommends familiarizing yourself with the intermittent nature of HIIT before jumping right into it for the first time, and to start off with intervals that may not require you to go all-out right away.
Indoor cycling and other aerobics classes often follow an interval format (with music!) and can be a great way to get started. Just be sure to start out at your own pace, says Stork, and to talk with the instructor beforehand if you have any concerns.
“One of the best features of HIIT-based exercise is that it calls for relative intensities, which can account for a range of fitness levels, and can be modified in many ways,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to start off with a protocol consisting of 4 or 5 work bouts and eventually work your way up to 10 bouts over a few weeks. There’s no need to push yourself too hard or too fast.”
Unfortunately, not many kids actually enjoy sitting down to complete their homework. So here are some tips to help you motivate your kids to do their homework and feel like a champ. By Barbara Prupas, Psy D, Renown psychologist The back-to-school excitement is over, and there’s still several weeks left until their next school break; chances are, their motivation to do […]
The post Homework Success: No More After-School Battles with These 5 Tips appeared first on BestMedicine by Renown Health.
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“It’s a gift — and what do you do with gifts? You give them,” says prostate cancer survivor Jay Ciccotti. Ciccotti continues to share his gift of singing throughout the community thanks to radiation treatment at the Institute for Cancer. Here is his story. Jay Ciccotti didn’t have any signs of prostate cancer. But in February 2016, when […]
The post Songs of Thanks: Prostate Cancer Survivor Gives Back appeared first on BestMedicine by Renown Health.
You might think you’re experiencing heartburn after devouring that plate of nachos. But the discomfort in your gut and throat may actually be acid reflux. Sure, it’s called heartburn, but that feeling deep in your torso that happens after too many munchies doesn’t start with your heart. It may be acid reflux. Is It Heartburn or Acid […]
For those who tuned into the Final Five this summer, you were privy to the athletic prowess that is Aly Raisman: she’s a two-time captain of the winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team, and she is the second-most decorated American gymnast of all time. At 22 years old, however, many people felt she was “too old” to compete this time around.
“They called me grandma,” Raisman said at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit.
With so many people cheering on her teammate Simone Biles (gymnastics’ favorite) and wondering if Raisman could even compare at her age, it’s a wonder she was able to tune out the criticism and go on to win silver in the All-Around competition and help bring her team to gold. But, she has some awesome logic:
“When Tom Brady wins the Super Bowl nobody asks him if he’s going to stop,” Raisman said. “When a hockey player wins the Stanley Cup, nobody asks him if he’s going to stop. Why should it be any different [for me]?”
That confidence is why so many people have cheered on Raisman throughout her entire career. And winning silver at the Rio Olympics felt “like gold” to her.
“It’s not always about winning,” Raisman said. “At the end of the day, people will remember you for the kind of person you are rather than the place you were on the podium.”
Now, Raisman is focusing on creating a leotard and sock line, working with nonprofit Walden Behavioral Care (which offers support to people with eating disorders), and connecting with and offering inspiration to young gymnasts.
“I take the role of being a role model really seriously,” Raisman said.
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
There’s a reason porta potty lines rope around the block at running events: Most runners want to empty out their system before going out and running miles upon miles.
It’s a valid concern—not being able to go to the bathroom before a race means you may get hit with the urge mid-run, and in turn, cramps and gas or a need to pause mid-race and make a bathroom pit stop.
“The vertical movement of running causes things to move through the colon, so not going to the bathroom before a long run or race may increase the chances of feeling something you don't want to feel while you run,” says Jason Karp, PhD, a running coach and the owner of Run-Fit.
Fear not: We polled the experts on exactly what to do to get your bowels moving first thing (plus what not to do).
Hollis Lotharius, a coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, swears by a cup of Joe to help prompt a bathroom run.
“I am one who likes to run ‘light,’” she says. “I have found that a strong cup of coffee is the best way to dump, pun intended, extra weight prior to stepping out the door.”
And it works, says Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, Health’s contributing medical editor and a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Caffeine is what we call a cathartic,” she explains. “It stimulates the colon to contract and works as a laxative for many people.”
For the non-coffee drinkers, Lotharius has tried and tested a healthy (and yummy) alternative that works for her. “Combine 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of honey, juice from one fresh lemon, and some grated raw ginger in a mug of hot water,” she says.
“The problem is typically more about not having the time to go before the race start—because of long lines at the porta potties or getting to the race late—rather than not being able to go,” says Karp.
Unfortunately there’s no exact science to how long your body needs before being “ready” to have a bowel movement, Dr. Raj says. “But waking up extra early allows you to have enough time for the crucial steps of eating, having coffee, et cetera.”
Lotharius agrees: “I set my alarm clock an hour early,” she says. “I honestly believe that the one hour less of sleep is far better than the alternative.”
Most people feel an urge to go to the bathroom after eating something, Dr. Raj says. “There is something cause the gastrocolic reflex,” she explains. “When you eat and the food moves into your stomach, there’s a reflex that stimulates your colon to contract a bit.”
The reflex may be more pronounced for some people than others, she adds, but having a bite first thing in the morning is a promising way to get things moving.
It may be tempting to coax your body into going by sitting on the John for a while. But kicking back with a newspaper and waiting it out can end up doing more harm than good, Dr. Raj warns.
“First of all, if you’re sitting for a long time, that suggests that you’re not going naturally and you may be straining or pushing for a lot of that time,” she says. “Also, sitting in that position puts pressure on the veins within the anal area, which is what causes hemorrhoids.”
Instead, move about, eat breakfast, have your coffee and wait for the urge to set in. Then sit down for just a few minutes so that the bowel movement comes on its own.
Upping the fiber in your diet can help keep you regular and prevent constipation, Dr. Raj says (a smart move whether you’ve got a race looming or not).
Insoluble fiber is the matter in foods that doesn’t get broken down by the gut and absorbed by the bloodstream. It adds bulk to stool in the digestive system, which helps keep it passing through smoothly and frequently.
Increase your fiber intake far in advance of your race so that your body has time to get used to a higher intake if you normally don’t get enough (adults should aim to get between 21 and 38 grams of fiber per day, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine). Try adding one serving a week; eating lots of fiber in a short period of time can cause your GI tract to protest in the form of gas or cramping, issues you don’t want to deal with during a race.
Find insoluble fiber in whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Prunes are particularly rich in fiber, with roughly 1 gram per prune. A heads up: Prunes also contain fructans and sorbitol, which are fermentable sugars that can have a laxative effect, so you’ll want to see how your body reacts at a time other than right before a race.
RELATED: 20 Best Foods for Fiber
…even if the label says something promising, like “gentle overnight relief.”
“Laxatives can end up having a painful effect, or they may work so strongly that you’re going for several hours or even the whole next day as opposed to the one, or maybe two, bowel movements that you were hoping for,” Dr. Raj says. “Especially if your body has never seen it before, it may have a super-strong reaction.”
The same goes for smooth-move teas, Dr. Raj adds, which can cause uncomfortable cramping or abdominal pain for some people.
“Typically the more active you are, the more regular you’ll be,” Dr. Raj says. “And physical activity tends to bring more activity to the colon as well.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean doing 20 jumping jacks in your living room will suddenly spur the need to go number-two, she says. But stretching out, doing a dynamic warm up, and getting your body up and moving may be worth a shot.
Constipation can sometimes stem from stress and anxiety, Dr. Raj warns. “So sitting there worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to clear your system while the clock is ticking can definitely block you from going,” Dr. Raj says. Focus on getting your head in the game for your run, maybe try some deep breathing exercises, to take your mind off of your GI concerns.
And if your corral is creeping toward the start line and your poop is still a no show? That doesn’t mean your run is doomed. “I don’t really know why physiologically it would be such a big problem to not have emptied your bowels before a race,” Dr. Raj says. “It’s sort of like giving birth; women are always freaking out that they’re going to need to have a bowel movement midway through. But it rarely happens, even though people are so paranoid about it.”
Karp says the bummer is when you do get a strong urge to go in the middle of a race. “Having that feeling affects you physically and psychologically,” he says, be it in the form of cramps that you need to walk off or as extra stress on your mind about whether you’ll be able to finish without needing to stop for the bathroom.
But if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go—and tacking on an extra minute to your time is better than having an accident or running in discomfort the whole way. “Don’t overthink it,” Dr. Raj says.
Curious about sipping prune juice the night before? Planning to add extra beans and spinach to your dinner plate to wake up and “go”? Take any poop-related tricks for a trial run (literally) weeks in advance, Dr. Raj suggests. You don’t want any surprises about how your body reacts to these changes on race day.
The bottom line: “Give yourself some peaceful time in the morning, and start any new poop-related habits far in advance so that your body has time to adjust and get in sync,” she says.